Nevada lawmakers agreed to cap noneconomic damages at $350,000 in all but the most egregious medical-malpractice cases after the collapse of a deal reached earlier in the special legislative session called to address the state's malpractice crisis. At the Senate's insistence, the latest agreement allows the $350,000 cap to be waived only when a jury finds gross negligence or when a judge finds "clear and convincing" evidence warranting a higher award. The first plan was criticized by doctors as being all but useless because it contained a number of exemptions including cases involving death, brain damage, paralysis, total blindness, amputation and sterility. Insurance industry lobbyist Jim Wadhams said insurers will want to see whether the new plan can survive court challenges. But he said, "It's a positive change." In December, St. Paul Cos., which had insured 60% of Nevada's doctors, began canceling malpractice policies as part of a worldwide strategy to leave the business. Other companies also pulled out of the state, citing the high cost of settling malpractice claims. Nevada has not had a cap on jury awards. -- by the Associated Press
Nev. lawmakers tighten tort reform plan
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